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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No sex-assault conviction; obstructing justice instead

Posted: 05/9/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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BRANDON -- A sexual-assault case collapsed after an inmate somehow managed to call the complainant, his common-law wife, hundreds of times from the Brandon jail.

But, in the end, he got a jail sentence nonetheless -- for obstructing justice.

The inmate was being held at the Brandon jail while pending on allegations he'd sexually assaulted and threatened his common-law wife.

But -- during 656 phone calls to her within 45 days -- he prodded her to the point she wouldn't co-operate with the prosecution and the charges were ultimately dropped.

'It's unthinkable to me that someone can make so many calls to someone they're on no-contact conditions with'

-- Crown attorney Deidre Badcock

"It's unthinkable to me that someone can make so many calls to someone they're on no-contact conditions with... She eventually went from being a co-operative witness to an unco-operative witness," Crown attorney Deidre Badcock told court this week as she stayed the charges.

The dropped charges, which had been laid against Joseph Clinton Antoine, involved incidents allegedly committed at Sioux Valley Dakota Nation in April 2013.

Instead, in court this week, 27-year-old Antoine pleaded guilty to obstructing justice for the calls he placed from jail. He also pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend on other occasions and other offences.

In May 2013, Antoine was out on bail when he breached a condition to keep the peace by having an argument with his girlfriend at her Sioux Valley home.

The month prior, at his Sioux Valley home, he assaulted her after he accused her of contacting other men over Facebook, grabbed her by the arms and threw a punch at her that missed.

He assaulted her again in August 2013. The assault happened at the woman's home while one of her four children was in the room. Antoine, who was intoxicated, was breaking a bail order that forbade him from going to her home and from consuming alcohol or drugs.

He then skipped a court date on Sept. 11, 2013 and was arrested 12 days later and held at the Brandon jail.

At that time, he was still pending on the sexual-assault and uttering-threats charges.

Badcock said Antoine's girlfriend was initially co-operative with the prosecution and indicated she'd testify at trial. But she later produced a letter indicating she wouldn't be co-operative and had never told the Crown she would testify.

Police investigated, which led to the discovery of Antoine's phone calls from jail.

Badcock didn't specify for the court how Antoine managed to bypass the jail having him on a list that specified he wasn't to contact his common-law partner. She indicated there was some sort of ruse that involved Antoine referring to the woman by a false name.

However, Antoine was found out because inmates use a personal identification number to make phone calls from the jail and those calls are recorded. His PIN was used to call his girlfriend's number 656 times between Sept. 25, 2013 and Nov. 8, 2013.

Badcock -- who read parts of a transcript of the phone calls in court -- said that during the calls, Antoine described the Crown attorney's office as corrupt, made it clear he didn't want his girlfriend to attend court and told her he could help with her children if he was released.

 

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 9, 2014 A9

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